From the Author's desk: I hadnt thought of starting this until I finished Checkmate- But I felt like I needed a break from writing heavy stuff right now- but couldnt stop writing- So this one comes a bit early for all of you- Be kind to me and leave comments.
The crisp afternoon air was filled with scent of anticipation as the family gathered around to talk about the future plans.
Akash observed that the dining hall was not as occupied as it was this afternoon since a long time that he could remember- And again they havent gathered here for their lunch- he noted albeit sadly. It was long time back that the family had breakfast or lunch or dinner together- those happy times seemed like a dream right now- He didnt know how they cultivated the habit of having food in their own rooms.
Atleast we have gathered today- to talk, he pondered a little satisfied.
Mama was sitting opposite him with sheaves of legal documents, and was very often turning to his left and discussing with the family Lawyer Mr.Roy in hushed tones, may be mentally preparing how to start and which one to put forward. Mr.Iyer, their Auditor, was lost in thoughts calmly sitting beside Mr.Roy.
Akaash turned to his right to see NK sitting next to him, his hand busily texting one of his friends. College life- he smiled looking at his younger brother. He would be definetely shocked at what is going to be revealed right now.
The seat next to NK was vacant as was the seat diagonally opposite to that.
Anjali and Mami are late again...
Dadi was getting impatient, he noticed. Dadi was sitting on one head end of the table. She surely looked very annoyed with the waiting. Next to her on her right side was Nani, She was all that Dadi was not. In fact both these elder ladies were opposite in their idealogies, how they treated their grand children and all that - but the underlying common thing was love that they both showered on them all- they did have a major part in the upbringing of him and his siblings.
After their Mom's death, immediately after giving birth to Anjali, Nani had been that Kind, compassionate mother figure to them and When their father grew irresponsible not caring or spending enough time for his kids after their mother's death, Dadi took his post- She was strict, commanding and full of control
Though both the ladies havent been able to replace their parents- they have served well to fill in the place of their parent figures. Akaash heart filled with affection looking at the elderly ladies.
"how long" Dadi muttered "We told we will meet by 3. Its 3.30 already"
"Arnav? I think they are not going to make it, Shall we start? " Mama spoke out calmly
Arnav who had been standing facing the window all this while, turned to look at his family. It was after a few seconds that he nodded a little responding to his Mama'a suggestion and moved towards his chair which was directly opposite Dadi's.
Akaash noticed that his elder brother looked worn out in a few days of this mess. Obviously with such bomb shell news all around them, he didnt expect less. In fact he was sure, it took a steel heart like his brother's to hold everything in place- He would have stumbled if not for Arnav's presence.
At 27, only two years elder to him, his brother had managed to react well to the facts pouring in from different directions- much better than him.
Arnav came and quietly took his place as Mama started to speak.
"After Jijaji's death, we thought we will sort out the will- To his three sons and his only daughter, But to our shock we found that major part of the property has been - well they have been eaten away."
"What do you mean eaten away?" NK asked quite surprised at the statement
Akaash and Arnav exchanged looks.
"Our father sold it NK" Arnav replied to him with a calmness that didnt go with the news
"What? but why? which ones? I mean how can he?" NK looked petrified " Am I the only one who is shocked by this?
"We came to know few days before Father's death- when he was very sick- Mr.Roy told us." Arnav told indicating himself and Akaash.
"Why wasnt I told then? I am a son too"
"because you werent here- you were in Australia and also, Father was sick he was in hospital- then he passed away- there were other distractions..." Akaash told him "and bro, reserve your expressions. There are more shocking things to come"
NK settled down, albeit this time a little more serious, his IPhone was placed on the table and Mama got his full attention unlike a few minutes back. Mama continued.
"and almost the rest of them, are either mortgaged or in dispute- the legalities will be explained by Mr.Roy"
Mr.Roy then started speaking about the estates, how the estates were all gambled for the horse races that their father took interest in. Initially before 8 years it started just as a casual fun gambling- but soon he got obsessed with it.
After much talks and wasted advises to Mr.Ajay Raizada, He had turned to Dr. Manohar Singh, their Maternal Uncle, who had tried to put a stop to their father's obsessive addiction to indulge in horse races, but in vain. When he had informed the ladies of the family about it, they tried to but they could'nt do anything- because at that point Ajay Raizada had gone to a point of No return- Ajay had taken to drinking much earlier and then the races, towards the fair end, they have even found he had been into card games- where he had lost most of the valuable estates in a spur of alcoholic state.
Mr.Roy or Dr.Manohar had only thought that the estates had been eaten away like that. All the three boys were studying abroad, and when they realised that they could not do anything and someone else had to take control of the business, Mama could not help much- he was a Doctor by profession and didnt know anything about the business- it was then they decided to inform Arnav to wind up his dream projects and studies Abroad and come back to take care of the badly falling standards of their family business due to their father's neglect.
But before Arnav could reach India, their father had a heart attack and was admitted in hospital. Akaash was asked to come back soon after. Arnav and Akaash was informed about the matter as soon as Akaash arrived home. But Ajay's condition had worsened and they had decided to inform NK to come back too.
Only after their father's death, Most of his father's friends, or so they thought,- until then, had come home carrying bonds saying that their father owed them some huge money.
What with their family fund already running low due to neglect, they had decided to call for a family gathering to inform the real state of the situation.
When Mr.Roy finished speaking, there was silence in the room. Everyone were shocked except for Mama and Arnav, It seemed that even Nani and Dadi didnt know the entire truth of the real state until now. Akaash was surprised about the bonds part- He was only being informed now.
All were so upset that they were not able to comment or speak- then Arnav cleared his voice- commanding their attention.